Major Activities in 2005

9 April 2005

Round table conference on CHT situation

A round table conference on the present situation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts was held at Shaheed Munir-Azad Seminar Hall under the auspices of the United Peoples’ Democratic Front (UPDF).

Prasit Bikash Khisha, convener of the UPDF, presided over the seminar. The discussants included Anu Muhammad, professor of Economics Department, JahangirnagarUniversity, Dr. Meghna Guhathakurta, professor of International Relations department, DhakaUniversity, Abul Kashem Fazlul Haq, professor of Bangla department, DhakaUniversity. Prenesh Samaddar from Bangladesh Lekhok Shibir, Ruhin Hossain Prince from Communist Party of Bangladesh, among others.

Rabi Shankar Chakma gave a welcome address at the beginning of the discussion.

Prasit Khisha said, “Many governments have came and gone one after another, but the problems of the CHT have not been resolved. The Accord, signed during the past government, has failed to bring peace in the CHT, although the then Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, was conferred with UNESCO peace award.”

He argued that peace could not be established in the CHT unless the main demands of the Jumma people were met.

Professor Anu Muhammad said that none of the issues raised by the Committee for the Protection of Fundamental Rights in the Chittagong Hill Tracts had been addressed in the Accord.

Criticizing the Accord he said, “Many other issues are vague in the Accord. The issue of the land problem cannot be resolved within the framework of the existing laws of the land. The government must recognize customary land rights of the Jumma people. Moreover, the issues of constitutional recognition of the Jumma people and rehabilitation of the settlers have not been addressed in the Accord.”

He further said the CHT is still under military rule. “A huge number of troops have been deployed there in the name of protecting sovereignty, but their primary aim is to sustain a repressive regime there,” he added.

7 June 2005

Massive rally against land grabbing in Khagrachari

Several thousand took part in a rally protesting the continuing land grabbing, expansion of army and BDR camps and fresh settlement of illegal settlers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF) organized the rally.

Presided over by Animesh Chakma, UPDF organizer in Chittagong, the rally was also addressed by Ujjwal Smriti Chakma, Devdanta Tripura, Choton Kanti Tanchangya, Mithun Chakma and Antarika Chakma.

The speakers said that the successive governments of Bangladesh had sponsored illegal occupation of land by Bengali settlers, which resulted in the eviction of the Jumma people. They called for a unified struggle for the recognition of customary land rights.

The speakers gave the army and the JSS-sponsored armed gangs a dressing down for preventing people from attending the rally, and called on Santu Larma to resign from the Regional Council and take part in the struggle for full autonomy.

29 July 2005

Rally protesting eviction drive by BDR in Sajek

The UPDF staged demonstrations in Dhaka, Chittagong and Khagrachari in protest against a BDR drive to evict Jum cultivators in remote Sajek areas of Rangamati district. In Dhaka, the protesters said, “The army and Bangladesh Rifles personnel are driving out poor Jum cultivators from their land and homesteads in a number of villages, including Devachara, New Lonkor, Old Lonkor, Halimbari and Sizok.’

Terming the Jum cultivators as ‘internal refugees, the speakers said, “These people have been living in Sajek since their earlier eviction by illegal Bengali settlers from 1979-81. Therefore, it is utterly inhuman to dislodge them once again in the name of reclaiming Reserve Forests.” They demanded an immediate end to the eviction drive.

In the Chittagong protest, more than four hundred turned out. The protesters marched through New Market, Kotwali and Laldighi before ending at Shahid Minar.

In Khagrachari, more than 2 thousand joined a protest demonstration. The army tried to prevent the people from taking part in the protest. They halted a jeep carrying protesters at Mahalchari and arrested one of them.

26 December 2005

UPDF observes 7th founding anniversary

The UPDF observed its 7th founding anniversary throughout the CHT with a call to strengthen the struggle for full autonomy and a declaration of general amnesty for the armed militants of the Jana Samhati Samiti. The army and the armed gangs of the JSS made futile attempts to disrupt the events.